"I'm Mayor Richard M. Daley, the mayor of the great city of Chicago."
That's what you hear when you open the mayor's first foray into user-generated content -- his own, personal YouTube channel.
Daley promises visitors to his site will be able to meet with him -- we assume that means by watching videos his staff produce. But how often will that actually happen? As regular users of YouTube or any other community site know -- there are those who live and breathe through their FaceBook, MySpace and YouTube pages. And then, there are those who create nice looking sites and never update them again.
Although the mayor apparently has had a profile on YouTube since 2006, his channel only had 90 views as of this writing. So we're assuming this is something a savvy 20-something aide suggested would be a good idea three years ago, and the mayor's office has finally decided to do some work on.
Let's hope Daley takes this seriously.
If he makes a good attempt at using the power of UGC and social networking, it could go a long way toward getting useful information out to people without filtering it through the media. And what a novel idea it would be for his honor to get a real, ongoing conversation started with Chicagoans.
Obama's inspired use of the Web in his presidential campaign might have finally awoken old-school politicians like Daley to the potential the Web has to further democracy. OK, that sounds like a lofty goal considering most of the chatter on the Web today is about Octo-mom and whose dress was the ugliest at the Oscars. But Obama proved that aimless rambling on the 'Net can be harnessed and directed, turning it into a tool powerful enough to motivate the youth vote and propel him into the presidency.
Let's face it -- no one writes letters anymore, and few are likely to pick up the phone unless their street is flooded or a tree just fell on their car. But writing a quick comment on someone's Wall or sending a Tweet is becoming second-nature.
The question is -- will the mayor direct the resources to keep this page updated and listen to the comments people take the time to write? Will he try to use the Web to organize and motivate citizens like Obama has?